Napoleonic Training day

The Saturday before Thanksgiving, WR opened the warren for a bit of napoleonic gaming, specifically for playing a training scenario for understanding the group rules and French army organization as the primary scenario objectives. Since the scenario would be a French vs. any French ally tabletop battle, the WR painted 25/28mm napoleonic collection yielded an obvious match up…. France vs. Northern Italians.

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Scenario map. Typical european terrain, with some open ground, low hills, a woods, a few buildings, and low walls or hedges. Scale is 12″ for each square for 6′ x 4′ tabletop area.

Forces involved: WR designed the scenario to use forces with similar organization battalion or cavalry regimental structure. So, French vs. Northern Italian “revolt” with a timeline of 1810-11 became the choice since both armies have basically the same battalion structure and cavalry regiments… except for French two cuirassier regiments and two converged grenadier battalions, WR used his Italian guard cavalry and infantry.

French organized their single corps with four commands. Two infantry divisions, each with one legere, two line regiments, and 8 pdr. foot battery. Each infantry regiment had three battalions of six miniatures. The cavalry division had four cavalry regiments; two chasseurs a’ cheval and two dragoon regiments (five miniatures each), with attached 4 pdr. horse battery. Lastly, the French reserve division had two converged grenadier battalions (2×6), two cuirassier regiments (2×5) and 6 pdr. foot battery. Attached to the corps headquarters was a 12 pdr. positional foot battery and corps ammunition train.

The Italian single corps organization matched the French commands in number and size. The only difference was in the Italian reserve command. Italian reserve division had a battalion of Italian guard grenadier, a battalion of guard chasseurs, the guard dragoons, and lastly the Italian Guard di Honor converged squadrons formed into a regiment. Artillery and corps headquarters remained the same as the French. For the numbers summary; both sides had 159 miniatures organized as 31 combative units, army MFP morale level at 105, and nearly balanced at 1590 points.

Scenario rosters (.xls):  France Roster,  Italian Roster

Opening deployments (1000 hours): French 1st Infantry Division deploys to the road left side, the sister French 2nd Division deployed between the road and farm with the French corps HQ deployed near the road. The cavalry division, having limited open space near the infantry, formed up on their right flank. Being Side One for the sequence of play (SOP), the French 1st Division marched forward to control the low hill, sending a legere regiment, in battalion columns, towards the left flank medium woods. The central 2nd Division, marched forward in massed formation, not proper narrow battalion columns, so their movement rate was restricted to linear. Holding back a bit, the French right flank cavalry division trotted forward to the roadway, placing chasseur a’ cheval skirmishers in front.

Note: For infantry column movement rate, the battalion is required to be in a “proper” column formation. Simple rule…. have more battalion unit miniatures in the rear ranks compared to the front rank. So a six miniature French battalion would have two miniatures in front and the other four miniatures in following formation close order ranks (a two by three block of miniatures). If three miniatures are in the battalion’s front rank, the other three are formed as the second rank… this is a massed formation, i.e. more than one rank of miniatures for firepower targeting, but moves at the slower linear formation rates (French class A movement, 9″ vs. 7″).

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General view of scenario after the eager French 1st movement phase completed.

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The French side surges forward towards their Italian opponents. Note the French 2nd Infantry Division is massed formations and not using “proper columns” compared to 1st Division at left.

Northern Italians  basically the same Corp’s organization and structure as their French opponents, so the Italian deployment sort of matched the French. Italian cavalry on their left, opposite the French cavalry division. The 1st Italian Infantry Division before the central village, and the remaining 2nd Italian Infantry Division covering the Italian right flank. One little wrinkle… The Italian players detached one Italian chasseur a’ cheval regiment from their cavalry division on left and placed with their right hand infantry division.

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The Italian view awaiting  their first movement as the French complete the 1st movement phase.

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Battle of Raszyn 1809 AAR

Well this seems to be a first for the WR. Normally WR decides to write-up a specific battle or mini-campaign, then proceed to composing the scenario notes (.doc) files after performing research to detail out the historical approach march of both armies, why they ended up on the same battlefield, and compares the research material for differences or conflicts etc.., especially in the units present and location on the battlefield. After all the steps and proofing the scenario notes…. play test the scenario for critical terrain to miniatures interaction, debug for issues which arise from having future gamers maneuver the tabletop miniatures, especially on the victory conditions. Then post a WR blog article on the site, followed then by AAR posting of the scenario played out.

This time, since the decision period for which historical battle scenario to play was reduced to one week, the whole process had to be compressed. One advantage WR had been he played a “Raszyn like” scenario several years ago so the feel and pace of the tabletop action was known. WR also remembered the players did a “power left march” and attacked Raszyn directly along with Michalowice. Jaworow never saw an Austrian miniature for the entire scenario. Dawidy saw the two grenzer battalions… they crossed the river and just sat in village for the victory conditions. The Mrowa (Ranka) stream slowed them down… but wasn’t a great terrain issue… and the Austrian artillery had a grand time with the smaller Saxon-Polish units. Wasn’t exactly what happened back in April 1809. So with that in mind the scenario notes file was completed the morning of truth (gamers arrival). Normally the gamers have an advance copy of the scenario notes and any discussion of the battle. For the historical scenario tabletop terrain map, the process was fairly easy… WR used Gill’s “Thunder on the Danube volume III” map (pages 13 & 15), and the internet drawn map source under “napoleonistyka” by Zbynia Olszewski, comparing both to a period drawn map WR had in his map files. More information on the scenario design, issues, conflicting data, and sources / links to be provided on next blog post.

To the scenario play test and AAR first this time…. then WR will post the Raszyn historical background material on next posting. Update: Battle of Raszyn 1809 historical background now posted.

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Opening scene for the scenario. GB Rozniecki cavalry brigade in foreground, DOW infantry brigades in Falenty and villages along the Mrowa (Rawka) stream at left. Austrians enter at right on temporary table extension.

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Opening scene on Austrian left. GM Geringer’s brigade enters. The GM Speth kuirassier brigade will arrive at right from table edge. GB Rozniecki DOW cavalry (3rd and 6th Uhlans) before them.

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GM Mohr’s Austrian advance guard starts scenario spilt apart. The majority on the Janczewice to Falenty to Raszyn road while the two S. Wallach grenz battalions enter near Podolszynie (right).

The Raszyn 1809 scenario tabletop map below is drawn at 600 yds. (12″ tabletop) to the map square inch. Terrain features and their effect on gameplay is discussed in the Raszyn 1809 scenario notes (.doc file) at end. To play out the cavalry approach encounters between GB Rozniecki’s uhlan cavalry brigade and the advancing Austrian cavalry (GM Mohr advance guard, GM Geringer detachment, and the arriving kuirassier brigade of GM Speth), WR used an extra foot table extension to increase the tabletop width to seven feet. Once the Polish cavalry is pushed further in on to the tabletop (back towards Janki and Falenty), the table edge extension is removed.

The scenario play testers: Dan and Paul for team Duchy… aka the Poles. Should be noted Paul has Polish heritage in his blood. For Team White coats… aka the Austrians, Andy, Daniel, and Luis marched on to the tabletop (with the miniatures that is). WR had the opportunity to watch and record the scenario battle for posterity…. and make corrective notes for the final version of the Raszyn 1809 scenario notes (.doc) file (found at end of this blog article if interested). Scenario play went well, considering the compressed time frame to generate written material and research.

Note: Since WR had the opportunity to take photos of the interplay tabletop action, WR will describe the game play rules involved shown in the photographs as italicized notes. This scenario, being a smaller scenario and open ground provides clear examples of the game system and interaction of the units and sequence of play.

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Raszyn 1809 scenario map showing the terrain, map grid and village names. Note the yellow line denoting the table edge extension. Each map square is 12″ by 12″ or 600 yards. (50 yds./inch).

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Raszyn 1809 scenario map with the command counters placed per their starting map grid coordinates. See scenario notes .doc file for  command rosters and scenario design.

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Alcolea 1808 revisited AAR

Alcolea 1808 is an interest small scenario far from the typical napoleonic battle played by the majority of napoleonic miniature gamers. Different from the norm of two sides, lined up facing each other, in that one side (the French) has a mixed collection of grab bag units, good overall in combative power and morale, marching along a dusty Spanish road towards Cordova. The other side is a rag-tag group of poorly armed, recently pressed, civilians with some Spanish regulars for backbone.

The initial scenario deployment has the Spanish in three groups; at the river stone bridge crossing, another group standing well behind the bridge defenders position hoping that they won’t be involved, and across a river, on the French side, they watch the French march across their front from a low hill. The French, for their part, are stung out marching in their road columns towards the Spanish defended bridge. Unit for unit, the French are superior, generally disciplined, and have four provisional cavalry regiments. The Spanish, except for the small number of regulars at the river bridge crossing, are mostly poorly armed civilians, some with muskets or firearms, others with pikes or farm tools. Their cavalry is two groups of collected squadrons from different regiments. The armed civilians cannot even form squares against the French cavalry, a scenario ripe for Spanish disaster when four provisional French cavalry regiments are present on the battlefield. The French need to march and assault fast…. sending the Spanish army morale “into the river” in quick order. Cordova is their target for the evening looting festivities. The scenario question is can the Spanish hold them up, prevent the sacking of Cordova that night, and maybe change history. But… if no sacking of Cordova occurs, would the Spanish be so outraged which led directly to the Baylen campaign next month and the Dupont surrender. A pondered question but for now the present scenario narrative commences.

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The initial deployments. French on the road in their marching columns. Spanish river bridge defense and the cross river hill position. The other Spanish command is off lower right of picture.

Scenario design and additional information found on WR’s Alcolea 1808 post. In addition there is another previous Alcolea 1808 AAR written about this scenario battle with a different flow of activity and result.

After some French player discussion, Paul and Daniel elected to storm the river defenses and just screen off the low hill Spanish levy defender. Easy to do with a few cavalry regiments since the Spanish levy battalions across the river, on the low hill position, has almost no defense from the sharp charging swords of the French provisional cavalry. They cannot form square formation and half the miniatures don’t even have a firearm to shoot at the French. Eric and WR played the poor Spanish basically without a plan since they basically react to the French assault. Both Paul and Eric are new to the game rules and systems of play and generally easy to pick up on the march so to speak. Paul while marching into the Spanish musketry, Eric hoping that the French stay away…. while hearing the Spanish levy knees knocking out of unison.

Scenario starts with the French infantry charging over the bridge. Column battalion formations, marching in step, over the bridge hump, and into the Spanish cannon fire. The Spanish skirmisher screen popping off a few musket balls too. Opening dice throws… French bodies fall rapidly on the bridge, the leading French General of Brigade Pannetier himself is hit and rolled to be mortal. Spanish player morale notches up. Continue reading

Klagenfurt 1809 AAR

The 1809 battle fought outside the Austrian city of Klagenfurt was the last WR historical scenario game played in YR2015. Small scenario, with a smaller stage of miniatures comparing to the recent games mentioned on WR. The scenario background and events leading up to this unusual Franco-Italian-Austrian battle fought in the backwaters of Inner Austria was covered last September under Klagenfurt 1809. Till writing up this scenario report, WR didn’t notice that his last two historical scenarios occurred on the same day, June 6th for both Klagenfurt and Pointe du Hoc. Wasn’t planned that way WR can assure the readership. So, to the action packed nineteen turn report and the first use of WR’s latest terrain addition… his recently textured fortress centerpiece on the gaming table.

Being a small scenario, Dan M. commanded the aggressive GD Rusca and his Franco-Italians (playing side 1) and Daniel, son of WR, commanded the Austrians (side 2) as FML Chasteler. The scenario design, forces involved, and notes of play can be referred to in the Klagenfurt scenario notes file (.doc): Klagenfurt Scenario notes 

The sunny day scenario starts with the Franco-Italian brigades deployed in Klagenfurt itself or just outside the city walls on the southeastern corner glacis. The pre-dawn morning hours have seen the eastbound Austrian Tyrol Korps marching quietly around the city of Klagenfurt via the secondary roads south of Klagenfurt. Austrian brigade detachments, true to their style of napoleonic cordon command, are stationed along the route of march and form the rearguard. They will rejoin the main body after the trains and baggage wagons have crossed the Glan River. With the rise of daylight and a sunny day, the French commander, GD Rusca watched the larger Austrian army by-pass his garrisoned fortress city. Late in the morning (1100 hours), he viewed from the Marienkirche church tower a gap forming between the Austrian Korps main body and the rearguard detachments. Seeing his opportunity, the Franco-Italian garrison sortie forth and the Battle of Klagenfurt begins.

The following photograph show the initial scenario tabletop deployments. The Austrians are somewhat fixed to certain tabletop grid squares at start. The Franco-Italians have some flexibility in their initial deployment allowing them to sortie (from Klagenfurt) based upon their scenario strategy. For this game, Dan chose to retain the French (Julhien) brigade in reserve (cover fortress gates etc.) and sortie with the larger Italian (Bertoletti) brigade, positioned outside the fortress walls on the southeast open glacis.

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The starting deployment and scenario set up. Austrian advance guard and main body in foreground, GM Schmidt’s brigade outside Klagenfurt at left, and Oberst Volkmann’s brigade on Kalvarienberg heights behind Klagenfurt. The Franco-Italian brigade around Klagenfurt.

Scenario map for the Klagenfurt tabletop

Scenario map for the Klagenfurt june 1809 tabletop. Each 1 foot square is 600 yards.

Scenario map with starting command positions. Note the Italian brigade used the option to deploy in E4 map square at start.

Scenario map with starting command positions. Note the Italian brigade used the option to deploy in E4 map square at start.

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Battle of Wertingen 1805 AAR

Almost one year ago WR wrote up his article on the Battle of Wertingen and included his short comments, tabletop map, and scenario design notes. WR’s primary objective was to create a sort of training scenario for a battlefield situation of cavalry vs. infantry with limited artillery for both sides. Training type historical scenarios are a pet favorite of WR, seeking tactical key game concepts, rule mechanics and over time, speed the team player sequence of play interaction and tabletop play.

Wertingen 1805 is a small tabletop scenario compared to the larger scenarios written by WR. The Austrians basically are a division of infantry (nine battalions), with two small cavalry units (squadrons) and no field artillery batteries. French have five full divisions…. four cavalry and one elite grenadier division, all equipped with one artillery battery. A totally unfair or unbalanced scenario on paper. WR loves the unbalanced scenario and the challenge to develop. Play forces the weaker player to pay close attention to the fine points of play, tabletop tactics, and the victory conditions especially. Those scenario victory conditions typically even the tabletop field so to speak and, if written well, direct the players towards the historical outcome and yardstick the tabletop results to the actual historical result.

WR’s initial post on Wertingen 1805 and historical commentary: Wertingen 1805. The scenario notes for playing Wertingen 1805 (.doc): Wertingen 1805 Scenario Notes

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Scenario opening positions. FML Auffenberg’s infantry battalions face off the arriving French 3rd Dragoon Division cavalry of GD Beaumont. Two French mixed horse batteries deploy on opposite height. Block in upper left corner is arriving 5th Corps light cavalry under GD Fauconnet.

Key scenario rule for Wertingen 1805. The Austrian units cannot perform any retrograde movement if under a French charge zone. Charge zones are 22′ arcs of the basic movement of 12″-16″, depending on cavalry type, but for this scenario the charge zone Austrian movement restriction extends universally for 18″. Under the normal scenario or game rules, all units have reduced movement (1/2 rate) in a declared charge zone, in any direction the owning player chooses, but for this unique scenario no Austrian retrograde movement is permitted if covered by a charge zone.

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Opening situation with the two sides facing off. Austrian battalion squares backed by two weak cavalry units and French dragoons in linear formations.

French tactics are basic in nature. Charge their individual dragoon regiments one or two at a time to pin the Austrian battalion squares in place till the infantry arrive. Keep dragoon regiments available to maintain a rolling charging routine across the frontage of the Austrian square line. Use the horse artillery to batter isolated squares and, if weakened, charge home and crush the hapless morale disordered battalion with a dragoon regiment. When planning their charges, keep in mind to use the “pump fake” tactic of only charging the minimum distance requirement of 4″ or engage in melee combat, otherwise pull up short, and remain outside the minimum fire zone of the battalion cannon embedded within some of the squares (4″ minimum fire zone range).  Properly done the Austrians shouldn’t be able to move their battalions till the infantry division arrives later in the scenario. Upon their near arrival the Austrian battalions are released and will run for their exit point. Good timing is everything.

Austrian tactics in scenario are tough. Maybe use a battalion or two to advance and break up the French dragoon charge planning. Try to place the French cavalry into a minimum fire zone of the battalion muskets (2″) or their attached battalion cannon (4″). This may lock up and cause loss on the dragoon regiment, and hopefully give ability for the rear battalions to make a retrograde movement (if not under the French charge zone). Once a battalion has two retrograde movements there is a good chance that battalion can continue their movements, free of French zonal charges, till they exit the battlefield. The two small Austrian cavalry units are the best chance to plan a disengaging Movement Phase if they can delay charge the advancing French infantry. Another tactic is use the one Austrian chevau-leger unit to screen off the French artillery for a turn or two.

Scenario is designed to teach players about charging, the charge zone, the cavalry movement during a charge, square movement, and the interaction of cavalry vs. square (avoid engagement if possible in most situations) but pin in place for the firepower of infantry and especially artillery. Lastly the effect of battalion (regimental) artillery and the increased minimum fire zone of infantry from 2″ to 4″ range.

With the two player teams assembled and the scenario explained, time to start the scenario narrative outlining how the miniature tabletop action played out last weekend.

Turn One: After a short team player conference, team French started maneuvering their 3rd Dragoon Division into position below the Austrian held hill slope. Their two-horse batteries opened fire on the exposed Austrian battalion squares causes quick loss. Cycling through the sequence of play (SOP), the French artillery just finished the Mutual Artillery Fire Phase leading to the French Cavalry Charge Declaration Phase on the Austrian half of the game turn.

Sequence of play chart with the two eight step half turn sequences. French are Side 1 column, Austrians Side 2 column.

Sequence of Play clip

Sequence of Play clip

The first of many charges declared by the French cavalry during this scenario…. Charge declared, successful morale test to charge taken, and trot forward the minimum 4″ distance and pull up or charge home…. here the French dragoon regiment pulled up their charge.

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French dragoon regiment, after the French artillery bombardment phase, calls their charge to “pin” the Austrian battalion in place and prevent retirement movement.

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End of Turn One shows the two sides. Note the French dragoon regiment pulled up short since the charge plan was just to keep the Austrians in place during their movement phase.

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Battle of Wartenburg AAR

Recently WR wrote up his Battle of Wartenburg October 1813 scenario, with scenario map, notes, general battle outline and various reference and linked materials. Today WR posts his report on the recent scenario game using the Wartenburg 1813 scenario.

Following report covers the entire tabletop twenty-one turn scenario (7 game hours) performed by the team players in actual seven hours time (includes pizza lunch break). Scenario starts at 1000 hours and ends on 1740 turn with misty weather at start. Scenario was played in WR’s new man cave gaming room featuring a 8×6 table, terrain closet, and nearby sofas and various electronic screens (see WR has moved!). Food and drink on the sofa table in easy reach. YouTube videos links, with turn by turn summary, available at end of blog article.

General view of the Battle of Wartenburg initial set up. French and Italians near Wartenburg, Wurttemburgers on river road and Prussians in distance.

General view of the Battle of Wartenburg October 1813 initial tabletop set up. French and Italians near Wartenburg, Wurttemburgers on river road and Prussian brigades in distance.

Woods outlined by felt and trees, marshy ground by blue-green felt, and boggy ground has small clumps of lichen scattered about. Ox-Bow lakes untreated blue felt… for now.

Starting 38th Division (Wurttemberg) position along the river bank road between Bleddin and Schuberg.

Starting 38th Division (Wurttemberg) position along the river bank road between Bleddin and Schuberg. Note 38th Division is divided into two separate groups at scenario start.

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Battle of Halle 1806

Being the 101st post on the WR blog, WR decided for a change of presentation and authorship on this blog post. Recently, a fellow gaming friend Dan Munson ran a 15mm Napoleonic scenario on the Battle of Halle October 1806 using his early 15mm Prussian and French miniature collection, terrain, and a set of 15mm napoleonic rules from another gaming associate S. Phenow. After read his reported AAR, WR asked to post the same unedited report on WR and share with the world. In Dan’s own words, his photographs, using S. Phenow’s “La Bataille” (LB) rule system, the Battle of Halle 1806 report is reprinted below. WR only added some photograph commentary and background file pictures to provide some additional detail.

Battle of Halle October 17, 1806 with Marechal Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte vs. Eugene Frederick Henry, Duke of Württemberg reported by the “Paris Times” correspondent Dan Munson (on assignment Prussia bureau).

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Eugene Frederick Henry, Duke of Wurttemburg, commander of Prussian Reserve Corps at Halle.

On Saturday, April 11, 2015, at the monthly “St. Crispins” hobby day in Anaheim, Andy Mouradian and I re-fought the October 1806 battle of Halle – Bernadotte’s French I Corps versus the Duke of Wurttemberg’s Prussian “Reserve” corps. The game was played with 15 mm figures, using the “La Bataille” (LB) rule system by S. Phenow. As you might know, historically the French cleaved straight through the Prussian “advance guard” forces covering the river crossings and disrupted the Prussian attempt to disengage and withdraw (that’s too polite – Wurttemberg’s command got scattered to hell and back). So how would Bernadotte (Andy) fare today?

Tabletop view of the open battlefield, river, and streams with Halle in the distance.

Tabletop view of the open battlefield, river, and streams with Halle in the distance.

This shows details of the battlefield before troop placement. No real significant woods to speak of. The broad stream is the Saale river, which is the key terrain feature: not terribly wide, but with steep (even sheer) banks which basically barred crossing by artillery and cavalry, and causing infantry a 3-turn delay in crossing (with an additional “disordered” turn on the far side, as troops sorted themselves, checked for wet cartridges, dumped mud out of shoes, etc.). The smaller side streams were deemed fordable per normal LB movement rules. Historically, the three bridges were covered types, but we had none available, so . . . Halle lies beyond the streams, with its large market square visible. Continue reading